This summer I have been interning at the National Forum located in the School of Education building. What drew me to this internship is the mission of the Forum, “The National Forum exists to support higher education’s role as a public good. In this pursuit, the Forum utilizes research and other tools to create and disseminate knowledge that addresses higher education issues of public importance.”
We have all heard, time after time, the importance of a good education. However, the ability to obtain a good education is not accessible to all. For the second time, a judge ruled in favor of Governor Rick Snyder that Detriot students do not have a right to literacy. In 2016 Detroit filed a lawsuit arguing the schools were in “slum-like conditions” and “functionally incapable of delivering access to literacy.” This lawsuit accused Snyder, the state school board and others of violating the civil rights of low-income students. In essence, Detroit was demanding equal school conditions for their students that consisted of a functioning building with heat, air, no mold, books, desks, stable floors, etc. – same conditions as high-income students receive.
Interesting enough Judge Stephen Murphy III agreed in his 40-page ruling that “When a child who could be taught to read goes untaught, the child suffers a lasting injury – and so does society.” However, he also asserted that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee a fundamental right to literacy. Wow. In other words, he is saying “Sorry. Wish we could help, but the U.S. Constitution that was written in 1789 – that wasn’t written for people of color or women or other marginalized groups – does not support your right to basic human fundamentals such as literacy and fair education.”
I believe in education and that it is a right for every child, student, and individual from K-12 to college/university. The right to education and literacy is a U.S. Constitutional right. Here at the National Forum, our research examines how providing higher education to everyone in society, specifically underprivileged and minority groups can help foster a stronger democracy. Yes, higher education had already shaped our current society, but expanding it will create more opportunities for more people. Providing college access to society at large will improve the quality of life in the United States, creating social uplift and serving as a public good, not simply a private benefit.
Every child and student deserve the right to education and higher education. I am hoping these rights are recognized sooner than later.